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History of Florida Broadcasting To Come To Life At History Center

Dec 6, 2017

There are many stories of the state's pioneers of broadcasting, and author Donn Colee will bring to life a few of those to life when he speaks Wednesday night at the Tampa Bay History Center.

Colee says the book, "Towers in the Sand: The History of Florida Broadcasting," was inspired by his godfather, who is a professor of history emeritus at the University of Florida. Colee says he was told no one had ever written a book on the history of broadcasting in Florida, so 12 years ago, he set about starting the task.

Colee is a second-generation Florida broadcaster - his parents met at a St. Augustine radio station. He worked in Armed Forces Radio, then was in the television business, at the CBS affiliate in West Palm Beach.  

"It's in my blood," he said. "This is not really a book about broadcasting.This is a book about the social history of our area, intertwined with the state's history, and a lot of great personalities and events tied into that."

Colee  says we're sitting at the precipice of a very uncertain time, especially for commercial broadcasters, because many have been bought out by corporate conglomerates and have lost their connection to the communities they serve.

He'll speak at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Tampa Bay History Center.

Here's a description from his web page:

The definitive story of the people, the radio and television stations, and the events that built an industry and a state.

Broadcasting touches almost every person in the United States every day. But like the air we breathe, we seldom give it a second thought. Towers in the Sand is the only comprehensive history of Florida’s broadcasting industry 1922-2016, the people who brought those stations to life, and the events that saw the state grow from boom to bust and back again to now the nation’s third most populous.

Don Colee

Over a decade in the making and fully referenced and indexed, Towers in the Sand tells stories from over eighty Florida broadcasting pioneers and current leaders from the Keys to the Panhandle. A celebration of broadcasting’s proudest moments through hard-hitting journalism and editorials, lifesaving moments through decades of hurricanes, and lighthearted moments with favorite personalities and promotions, Towers in the Sand also laments the loss of a national treasure as most stations were transformed from local community partners to lines on corporate balance sheets. As broadcasting sits at the precipice of a very uncertain future, the author hopes through this work to engage thought, conversation, and action to ensure its continued relevance in society.